Not yet, anyway.
While making an appearance on TNT’s Inside The NBA, Howard, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, wouldn’t doom his partnership with Harden to utter futility, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Barkley told Howard that he was in the “back nine” of his career and urged him to make a free agency decision to chase a championship. He also questioned whether Howard can succeed while playing with Harden, but Howard later repeated the comments he made late in the season about pride and ego.
“I think we can (succeed together),” Howard said. “I believe we can. Both of us have to put our egos and our pride to the side and say, “Hey, we need each other to win.’ That’s the only way we’re going to win.”
Good on Dwight Howard for taking the diplomatic route. He hasn’t left the Houston Rockets just yet, and there’s nothing to be gained by trashing a teammate, even if you consider him a soon-to-be-former teammate.
Howard still has to sell himself to other teams, and disparaging Harden, even if he deserved it, on national television won’t win him any free-agency brownie points. His reputation has suffered enough over the last half-decade, given the circumstances under which he left the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, in addition to how the Rockets’ locker room culture seemed to crumble with him in the fold.
And then there’s always the possibility Dwight Howard opts in for next season, in which case criticizing Harden in public would make for an awkward work environment.
That, of course, isn’t the primary concern.
After all, for all of Howard’s practiced diplomacy, it would be a real shock to see him back in Houston, beside Harden, next season.